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A Hair-Cut Above...and Below - 2/11/20


After going to the same barber for more than a decade, I decided to leave.  The customer experience went down, and the price went up.  For my last several visits, I was the one who was driving the conversations – when I could get a word in edgewise between Read more

When Employees Fight Over a Customer - 2/4/20


There’s nothing like the feeling of comfort I get from a warm greeting at a business establishment.  A feeling of “you are my most important customer” and “I cannot wait to serve you” brings a tear to the eye of a customer service consultant.  But that’s not the only Read more

LOTS of Opportunities to Appreciate Customers - 1/28/20


They give us their money, and we give them merchandise. We say “Thank you!”  That is the old-time stereotypical opportunity for a company to thank their customers.  But there are opportunities all day long for us to convey appreciation to our customers. Beyond the actual transaction, there are so many Read more

When Jack Gave Arnie a Tip - 1/21/20


Jack Nicklaus may have been the greatest golfer ever.  Many think that Arnold Palmer was the most important golfer of the 20th century.  These two greats were contemporaries, so they became competitors and friends all at once.  And when somebody who is one of the greatest of all time Read more

Make it Abundantly Clear - 1/14/20


Becky was laying in her hospital bed and staring at the whiteboard on the wall.  It had a room number, the room’s phone number, and the date.  It had the pictures of the pain scale, with happy-to-sad faces and ratings from 0-10.  It noted when the last meds were Read more

Become the Wishing Well - 1/7/20


When you don’t know if the next step will solve the customer’s problem, give hope a chance.  If you’re not certain how things will progress on their project, give hope a chance.  If you want to end the conversation by having them feel positive, even if uncertain, give hope Read more

Why Silence is Golden - 12/31/19


In the world of customer service, to begin finding a resolution, sometimes we have to initiate conversation. To keep things moving forward, oftentimes we have to proactively engage in discussion.  To have effective dialogue, we need to avoid those long periods of dead silence. But don’t let those truths of Read more

2019 Holiday Poem - 12/24/19


There is joy absolutely everywhere, Sometimes you just need to look for it. There are birds and babies. There are flowers and sweet older ladies. You just have to look for them. People hold doors open for others, with smiles. There are days when you can see for miles. You just have to look for them. There Read more

Encourage the Customer - 12/17/19


Everybody sing with me:  Feelings, whoa whoa whoa, feelings… Excellent old song, and be thankful that I’m just writing the words and not singing to you.  While not all of us are comfortable with discussing feelings, feelings are an important part of the customer experience. No, you can’t make someone feel Read more

Hearing is Believing - 12/10/19


“I just want to be heard.” When I work with clients whose customers are the community, this is a phrase I’ve heard far too often from residents.  For retail businesses and other industries where there are many choices, often customers will take their business elsewhere instead of complaining.  But with Read more

A PB&J Customer Service Lesson – 3/27/18

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week Please leave a comment


When my daughter was in elementary school, she had a teacher who gave the kids an assignment – write instructions on how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Simple enough, right?

When the assignment was turned in, the teacher stood at her desk, pulled out a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, and a jar of jelly, and she began to read the first student’s instructions out loud – “Put peanut butter on bread.”

So, the teacher put the loaf of bread in the center of her desk, and she slammed the jar of peanut butter on top of it. Some students laughed; others sat in disbelief.

The teacher began to read the second student’s instructions – “Place a slice of bread on a plate, and spread peanut butter on the bread.”

The teacher opened the bag with the loaf of bread, pulled out a slice, took a paper plate off the shelf, and put the slice of bread on the plate (so far, so good!). Then she unscrewed the top of the peanut butter jar, put her hand in, grabbed some peanut butter, and spread it by hand on the slice of bread.

This was met with equal groans of “Ewwww!” and “Gross!”

The teacher was illustrating how the kids need to be thorough in their descriptions/instructions. When explaining what to do or how to do something, we can’t assume that the person reading what we’re writing will make the correct assumptions about what we mean. If we want them to be clear, we need to be specific enough to be understood correctly.

Think about the instructions you give co-workers and customers on how to do a task – how to complete a form, sign-up for a service, submit documentation, provide you with information. If you want it done a specific way, you have to be very specific in providing instructions.

Make sure you get what you want in the form you want it from others. Don’t assume others will interpret general instructions the same way.

Learn from this PB&J Customer Service Lesson.

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Don’t Carry the Baggage – 11/15/16

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week Please leave a comment


It’s so easy to react in a certain way, and it’s so natural.

There’s a customer coming toward you – oh no, not THAT customer! Complain, complain, complain.

Fred – your co-worker from Sales – wants to meet with you – ugh. That will take 3 hours, you’ll get in 2 words, and you’ll have 17 To Do’s afterward – without a Thank You!

These are our feelings when we see certain people or know we’re going to encounter them. This is how we react when we see that name come up on caller ID. These are our thoughts when we think we know what is about to happen.

This is our baggage. These are our preconceived negative notions that we take into conversations because we’ve had bad experiences in the past or have heard negative things about an individual.

The problem with carrying this baggage with us into these interactions is that it can cause us to carry a negative attitude – seeking that which bugs us and focusing on what might go wrong. It can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You have a good chance of having the interaction you expect. So expect the conversation will go well. Expect success.

Sure, you only have control over half the conversation – what you say and how well you listen. You have no control over what they say or how well they listen – but control your half with good intention. Control your half with openness. Control your half with a positive attitude. Control your half with professionalism. Control your half with a vision of success.

I know that certain people you have to deal with at work elicit negative reactions. But don’t let that initial reaction taint your approach in your response.

Don’t Carry the Baggage.

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Of Donuts and Delivering a Great Experience – 2/2/16 TOW

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Are you a Dunkin’ Donuts or Krispy Kreme raving fan? Take the poll in this Tip of the Week, and let us know!

Why are we discussing donuts? It’s because it’s rare to find someone who likes both brands equally. It’s because when you order donuts from one of their stores, you have decisions to make. Do you want sprinkles? How about chocolate or cinnamon? Good old fashioned glazed? Jelly? Maple? Hot and now?

There are many choices, and where there are so many choices, some customers want varieties and others want the same thing every time. To deliver the right donut, the employee can’t assume what the customer prefers.

In customer service, it’s easy to hear a key word or phrase coming from the customer and assume we know what they want; it’s easy to incorrectly read something into an e-mail or letter from a customer.

So when the customer has many choices in service delivery, how do you make sure you deliver the right experience in the right manner? Consider these 3 points in your dealings with customers.

#1 – Educate – Let them know the options. This gives the customer the best possibility of getting what they want the way they want it, because they know what service they can receive, when, and how. This also enables you to proactively set expectations with the customer about the experience.

#2 – Ask – Identify their true issues, needs, goals, and preferences in the service experience by asking specific questions – the what, why, when, and how of the need itself, as well as how they’d prefer it addressed.

#3 – Confirm – Before moving forward, restate your understanding of what they just conveyed. Remember, you want them to have a great experience, so convey you listened and you care by confirming (and then doing) the right thing.

To provide a great experience, truly know the customer’s choices prior to delivering the service.

Educate, Ask, and Confirm.

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